The following is an interview with writer Caitlin Marceau regarding the upcoming release of the novelette, Magnum Opus, through Timber Ghost Press. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Marceau about the creative process of bringing the story to life, how the story may connect with its readers, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Magnum Opus! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Caitlin Marceau: Thanks so much! I’m really lucky to get to work with them, and I’m so excited for everyone to read this story. Magnum Opus is, at its core, a story about author envy. It looks at how far one woman is willing to go for her book to be a success and what happens when her choices start haunting her.
As weird as this might sound, the major influence for this book was Twitter (but not in a “technology is going to destroy you” kind of way). The online horror community is wonderful, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. But social media is a tricky space to navigate and, like everyone, there are moments where I sometimes wish someone else’s success was my success. And I think that’s a really normal, relatable, and healthy experience to have online. So, naturally, I took this idea to the most extreme and unhealthy length I could!
BD: What can you tell us about your creative process in bringing this story to life, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
CM: Oh man, my creative process always feels pretty boring, and I wish that I had a cooler one to share with people. One day, I’ll be the kind of author who drinks expensive wine and uses a typewriter, but for now, it’s a pretty standard process.
Basically, I come up with an idea, outline it to death in a notebook (I’m one of those people who hates outlining things digitally.), and then I type it up as fast as possible. I find if I wait too long between the idea’s inception and me getting it down on paper, the love for the story dies and then writing it just feels like pulling teeth. So, while some people like to let their ideas breathe for a bit, I tend to smother mine with attention. After it’s written, I’ll edit it a few times before sending it over to my best friend to beta read. Then I’ll do a final pass and send it off into the universe.
As for creative influences, I don’t think I have anyone or anything too specific. But when it comes to finding ideas, I will admit that I’m more inspired by the smaller and more mundane moments in life than the big “what ifs.” Like, I find it more fun to write about someone’s coffee run going sideways than it is to wonder what would happen if coffee beans attacked the city. So most of my ideas, like the one for Magnum Opus, just kind of start with me looking at something pretty boring and trying to take it to its worst possible conclusion.
BD: What makes Timber Ghost Press the best home for this novelette?
CM: I’ve been following Timber Ghost Press for a while now and absolutely love the type of work they’ve been putting out. They have a reputation for trying new things and bringing readers quality horror, and so I’ve been eager to work with them for a few years. I’d only ever heard good things about their Editor-in-Chief, C. R. Langille, and that was one of the big reason why I wanted to work with them on Magnum Opus.
Whenever I’m looking to work with a publisher, the deciding factor is always the person behind the company. I think it’s exceptionally important to work with someone who wants to bring the best version of your story, and your vision, to life. I’ve seen some publishers take full control of the publishing process and leave very little room for author input, and I’ve seen others leave their writers to sink or swim. So, it was really important for me to work with someone who was going to be an active member of the publishing process, but who was also open to trying new things. Given Timber Ghost Press’ reputation for doing exactly that, I knew this was the best home for this project and I’m really grateful to them for taking a chance on my work.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that this story will connect with and impact readers?
CM: I think envy, especially envy rooted in what we see on social media, is a really relatable concept. I’m willing to bet that everyone has coveted the success of someone else at one point or another, and I think that’s what makes this story so universal. I’m hopeful that Magnum Opus will get people to stop comparing themselves to others or, at the very least, reflect on the price they’re willing to pay for success.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
CM: Definitely! If you can’t wait for Magnum Opus to come out this August, then you can grab a copy of my free novelette, 23 McCormick Road, to hold you over until then. And if you’re already a fan of my writing, please be sure to check out my debut novella, This Is Where We Talk Things Out, coming out this September from DarkLit Press. My work will also be appearing in the third season of Shadows at the Door: The Podcast, available wherever you like to stream podcasts, later this year.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Magnum Opus and your other work?
CM: You can find me on pretty much every social media with the handle @CaitlinMarceau (although I’m especially active on Twitter). But if you’re not a big fan of being online, or you prefer having things delivered to your inbox, then definitely check out my monthly newsletter, Everything Is Scary All The Time.